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Why the New York Jets’ hubris, inability to admit a mistake is responsible for their 2023 season

The New York Jets entered the 2023 NFL season with more hope and excitement for football than almost any time in franchise history. Now, this Jets’ season should be remembered as what can happen when a franchise is unwilling to admit its mistake.

New York loved Zach Wilson heading into the 2021 NFL Draft. In the weeks leading up to draft day, there was no question that the Jets would select Wilson with the second overall pick. In fact, some within the front office and coaching staff believed Wilson was better than Trevor Lawrence.

  • Zach Wilson career stats: 72.1 QB rating, 20-24 TD-INT, 56.7% completion rate, 9.7% sack rate, 189.8 passing yards per game, 6.3 yards per attempt
  • JaMarcus Russell career stats: 65.2 QB rating, 18-23 TD-INT, 52.1% completion rate, 9.3% sack rate, 131.7 passing yards per game, 6 yards per attempt

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It didn’t even take two full seasons to realize Wilson wasn’t a starting-caliber NFL quarterback. Even amid one of the worst stretches from a quarterback in NFL history, Wilson also publicly refused to take blame for losses. The combination of Wilson’s poor play and his attitude angered teammates, leading to the locker room begging the Jets to acquire Aaron Rodgers this offseason.

The Jets came through for their players, acquiring Rodgers at a significant price that would hurt them long-term but immediately allow them to compete for the Super Bowl. As a result, New York’s locker room celebrated the arrival of Wilson’s replacement as if the Lombardi Trophy was already secured.

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You could feel the renewed energy and joy for the game of football players had this summer on Hard Knocks and the atmosphere on Monday Night Football in the Week 1 opener was unlike anything many have ever witnessed. It all came crashing down when Rodgers suffered a torn Achilles.

In the weeks since, the Jets have gone 2-5 despite the emergence of Breece Hall all while being carried by one of the NFL’s top defenses. Yet, Wilson has averaged just 187.1 passing yards per game with a 59.1 percent completion rate.

After another brutal loss on Sunday Night Football, with a late Wilson turnover costing the team a shot at a comeback, Jets’ head coach Robert Saleh stood by Wilson.

“He’s actually playing pretty well.”

New York Jets head coach on Monday regarding Zach Wilson’s performance

There’s an old saying, “If everyone around you is the problem, maybe you’re the problem”, that fits quite well with the Jets’ situation. Players, analysts, fans and even rival NFL executives have stated that Wilson isn’t a starting-caliber NFL quarterback.

Led by Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas, the Jets have refused to believe it and their actions post-Rodgers injury capture the hubris that has led to this downfall.

New York Jets front office repeatedly passed on chances to replace Zach Wilson

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Washington Commanders
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets put all of its hopes in the proverbial Aaron Rodgers’ basket. It didn’t matter that he was a 39-year-old quarterback with an injury history that included calf strains (2014, 2016, 2023), a thumb fracture (2022), a toe fracture (2021), and an MCL sprain (2018).

New York stuck with Wilson as its backup quarterback, fully intending for the 2023 season to be his development year. The Jets’ front office knew the risks of starting an injury-prone quarterback approaching 40 years old. Starting that quarterback, who tends to hold onto the football for too long, was inviting risk behind an offensive line that allowed 192 pressures (11th in NFL) and ranked 21st in ESPN’s pass block win rate last season.

Failing to adequately address the backup quarterback situation with a reliable option in itself was an example of the organization’s hubris that nothing would go wrong and Wilson would be ready in a worst-case scenario. Remember, Gardner Minshew, Case Keenum, Mike White and Andy Dalton were all available.

However, that’s not what makes the situation the Jets’ front office and coaching staff created the greatest example of mismanagement and their refusal to give up on previous convictions. It’s the fact that Rodgers suffered a season-ending injury in Week 1 and New York never even attempted to address the problem, even after Wilson proved he couldn’t cut it.

  • Zach Wilson stats 2023: 59.8% completion rate, 74.6 QB rating 5-6 TD-INT, 6.1 yards per attempt, 33 sacks taken in nine games

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Ahead of the NFL trade deadline, the Arizona Cardinals made Joshua Dobbs available for trade and the Washington Commanders listened to offers on backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett.

  • Joshua Dobbs stats 2023: 63.6% completion rate, 85.1 QB rating, 11-5 TD-INT, 6.7 yards per attempt, 21 sacks taken in 10 games
  • Jacoby Brissett stats 2022: 64% completion rate, 88.9 QB rating, 12-6 TD-INT, 7.1 yards per attempt, 24 sacks taken in 16 games

New York never even made a call. The Cleveland Browns, who had already spent the most capital ever on a quarterback, pursued trades for Dobbs and Brissett as insurance plans behind Deshaun Watson. Yet, the Jets’ front office determined it wasn’t worth trading a mid-round pick for a quarterback upgrade even on a roster with a championship-caliber defense and great offensive weapons. Even still, New York had one last option to upgrade at quarterback.

As reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network on Nov. 12, New York had an opportunity to sign Carson Wentz. The veteran starting quarterback specifically reached out to the Jets’ front office in early November, inquiring to see if they’d be interested in signing him. New York wasn’t interested, reaffirming its commitment to Wilson as the starting quarterback. So, Wentz signed to be Matthew Stafford’s backup.

That is hubris getting the best of an NFL franchise that should be doing everything to win. Jets’ ownership committed unprecedented money to go all-in on the 2023 season, likely sacrificing the future beyond the 2024 season. Instead, it’s all going to be wasted because the front office and coaching staff refused to ever admit they were wrong about Wilson.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Jets, check out #NYJets rumors, rankings, and news here.

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